Na verdade, o que Obama fez, logo no início do seu mandato, foi decretar o fecho das instalações prisionais conhecidas por Gitmo para Janeiro de 2010, período necessário para encontrar soluções quanto ao destino a dar aos detidos, o que se tem revelado mais complicado do que aqueles que se convenceram de que os detidos são todos inocentes, presos por engano, terão pensado.
Para perceber melhor a história de Gitmo, os antecedentes, o contexto, a evolução, as contestações, as suspeitas, os inquéritos, os processos judiciais, as libertações, as técnicas avançadas de interrogação (enhanced interrogation techniques) - que alguns não hesitam designar tortura - e os seus resultados, as condições de detenção e o futuro das instalações, da jurisprudência e dos detidos, recomenda-se a leitura integral do artigo da autoria de Arthur Herman na Commentary Magazine., do qual aqui deixo alguns destaques, que acabam por constituir um grosseiro resumo:
The Gitmo Myth and the Torture Canard
«On January 21, 2009, President Barack Obama issued his first executive order: He was closing the detention center at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba and calling a halt to the military commissions created in late 2001 to try terrorist suspects detained there. (...) Dana Priest of the Washington Post took to the paper’s front page to proclaim joyously that “with the stroke of his pen,” Obama had “effectively declared an end to the ‘war on terror,’ as President George W. Bush had defined it.”
Then several strange things happened. Obama’s order “closing” Gitmo actually left it open for a year, (...) though Obama admitted privately it might have to stay open longer than that. Later, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that, far from being “the Bermuda Triangle of human rights” (...), Gitmo was in full compliance with the humane-treatment provisions of the Geneva Convention. Meanwhile, the military commissions (...),were only being suspended for 120 days, and (...) will be reinstated almost exactly as they were before. (...)
(...) [W]hy, exactly, the pressure to close the prison facility has been so intense and long-lasting [?]
[T]ake into consideration (...) the aggressive and unending efforts of a cadre of lawyers, activists, left-leaning Democrats in Congress, and civil libertarians against the facility, its purpose, its goal, and its existence. These efforts began even before it was opened, in November 2001, and continue to this day. The anti-Gitmo forces worked tirelessly to shape the public perception that Gitmo was the red-hot center of an aggressive policy approach that led the leftist financier George Soros to declare: “The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush.”
In October 2001, the United States invaded Afghanistan (...). Within weeks, the U.S. military found itself holding tens of thousands of prisoners, including foreign al-Qaeda fighters who had been training in terrorist camps in the Afghan hinterland. (...)
(...) [T]he military captured more than 70,000 men and put every one through a rigorous screening process. Ten thousand were released immediately. By the time the military had completed its work, only 800 remained in custody. These were the ones they had deemed hard-core trained terrorists who could not be released without running the risk they would rejoin the battle. The question was what to do with them.
From the beginning, the Department of Defense and its head, Donald Rumsfeld, were deeply reluctant to take on the job of detaining these prisoners who, unlike normal POWs, fought for no country, wore no uniforms, and had systematically broken the rules of war. (...) [T]hey were not automatically covered under the Geneva Convention. Deciding how they were to treated or tried posed immense legal difficulties (...).
(...) Gitmo was (...) a detention facility set up in order to prevent “enemy combatants from continuing the fight against the US.Its goals were military and tactical, not juridical or penal. Still, the conditions under which these unconventional prisoners were to be held did involve questions. (...)
Its goals were military and tactical, not juridical or penal. Still, the conditions under which these unconventional prisoners were to be held did involve questions.
(...) The prisoners in no way fit the standard of “lawful combatant” as defined by the Geneva Convention’s Common Article 3 and therefore could not automatically be accorded the treatment the Convention required. (...) [A]lthough that did not mean they could be treated in any way the Gitmo guards and commandant saw fit.
There were other practical reasons for refusing to treat the Gitmo prisoners like German or Italian POWs in World War II (...) Al-Qaeda recruits are trained in the arts of conspiracy, assassination, and murder. A system of open barracks, as in a conventional POW camp, would allow detainees to organize plots, even rebellions, within the compounds (...), and to take vengeance on their own number who were suspected of confessing or cooperating with American authorities. Detention in separate cells, as in a conventional prison, seemed the only way to overcome this logistical nightmare.
The rules on Gitmo detention and on interrogation constituted a valiant attempt to deal with an unprecedented legal situation. (...)
ENTER STAGE LEFT
When President Bush announced in November 2001 the establishment of the detention center and plans for military commissions to try cases, Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights was furious. (...)
(...) In February 2002 Ratner filed his first petition for habeas corpus for a British-born Gitmo detainee named Shafiq Rasul (...). [T]he focus of Ratner and his allies was not torture or the interrogations at Gitmo. Instead, they worked to plant the idea in the public’s mind that most, if not all, of these inmates might be innocent victims, picked up on the battlefield by mistake.
The inmates themselves were happy to oblige. Shafiq Rasul, for example, told Ratner and anyone who would listen that he was no terrorist. He was an innocent tourist whom the Taliban had abducted while he was traveling in Afghanistan, and that during the American invasion he had been forced to take up an AK-47 to use in self-defense. Rasul’s story and similar ones told by two other Gitmo captives born in the English town of Tipton, Ruhal Ahmed and Afiq Iqal (later known as the Tipton Three), became the centerpiece of Ratner’s campaign to open the gates at Gitmo. (...)
(...) One of the first structures in the prison camp was a trailer for the International Commission for the Red Cross, which had full access to the detainees and collected mail to be sent to their relatives. (...)
(...) No one had yet properly defined how Gitmo would function as both a detention and an interrogation facility. In addition, there were no rules on how to punish inmates who attacked their guards or otherwise violated camp rules. (...) To this day prisoners are not punished for their crimes or offenses, even when they attack guards or pelt them with feces.
(...) The environment had grown so stale and hermetic that it became a breeding ground of rumor about unorthodox and bizarre interrogation tactics, including inmates who claimed they were being slapped, shouted at, or subjected to loud music; interrogators pretending to defecate on the Koran; and female interrogators sitting on detainees’ laps in order to humiliate them, or splashing them with red ink pretending it was menstrual blood. Every one of these was investigated and proved false, but the rumors were passed along by FBI interrogators (...). They seemed to verify the picture painted by Ratner and others that the facility was reeling out of control.
(...) [T]he main problem was that Gitmo was proving an ineffective facility when it came to uncovering intelligence. (...) [T]he rules were stricter even than the Army field manual’s (...). Prisoners were allowed to defy their questioners and treat them with contempt (...).
the Gitmo facilities had no hidden basements or secret dungeons. Every aspect of prison life and handling of inmates happened in the open, with a senior commissioned officer on duty on every block, and a senior non-commissioned officer on every floor of every block around the clock. Gitmo’s resident “staff judge advocate was constantly on the lookout for torture or abuse,” (...). Every allegation of abuse by a detainee had to be checked, and then checked again.
Officials opened Guantánamo Bay to regular tours by the media and members of Congress. “Guantánamo is the most transparent detention facility in the world,” (...). It is also the most inspected and investigated. The staff could show visitors the new facilities for prisoners’ recreation and prayer and point out that the inmates had Qur’ans in seventeen different languages, complete access to Red Cross officials, regular mail delivery, and a daily menu that many Americans would consider lavish. The biggest health danger at Gitmo to the inmates’ health was their steady weight gain on more than 4,000 calories a day. Some inmates nearly doubled their weight after arriving at the base. An internal Defense Department document completed in 2005 that came to be called the Church Report (because it was overseen by an admiral named Albert Church) pointed out that inmates were more likely to be injured in their intramural games than in handling by the jailers.
(...) [I]n terms of accommodation to religious belief and case review boards, Gitmo actually exceeds Geneva Convention rules. At the end of Ramadan in 2002, the staff actually considered sacrificing a goat for the detainees, but decided not to for fear of earning the wrath of animal-rights groups.
Designated areas for prayer and religious practice are the one place in Gitmo where inmates are left unsupervised. That is a concession never contemplated by Geneva Convention rules and one that officials admit is fraught with danger. Most detainees see their incarceration as one more way to carry out jihad by other means: attacks on guards are common, including spitting and throwing urine and feces. (...) Guards who retaliate are strictly disciplined; the inmates are not. (...)
As for the issue of abuse, a total of twelve separate investigations over fifteen months have left no lingering doubt: Gitmo is safer and less abusive than any detention facility anywhere in the United States, military or civilian. (...)
(...) The political Left had by now seized the moral high ground on the issue, thanks to the visual images from Abu Ghraib. The media were prepared to believe that any inmate complaint of abuse was automatically valid, while any official denial (or when it was pointed out that al-Qaeda training manuals instructed captured agents to complain about torture and abuse) was deemed part of a cover-up. (...)
A CHANGE OF POWER
Virtually no one bothered to point out that “rendition” had been invented as an interrogation ploy during the Clinton presidency in 1995 by one of Bush’s most vociferous critics, former CIA operative Michael Scheuer. Indeed, Scheuer remains unashamed of his role in pioneering a way to deal with dangerous terrorists who fall outside the normal jurisdiction of the U.S. court system but who may have vital actionable intelligence requiring harsh interrogations that Americans would prefer not to do themselves or even witness. (...) [E]veryone knew the suspects who had been subjected to “rendition” were being tortured and in far more horrific ways than waterboarding. (...)
It was precisely to avoid the kind of moral dilemma posed by rendition that Gitmo had been created in the first place (...) the Gitmo myth took hold. That myth had crystallized around two assertions: First, that Bush administration rules had made torture routine at Gitmo and elsewhere; and second, that the very existence of Gitmo was counterproductive to the war on terror and undermined our image abroad. (...)
So what will happen if detainees enter the criminal justice system inside the United States and end up being released? The record of those who have been released from Gitmo is not an encouraging one for anyone who claims they want to protect America from terrorists.
By February 2006, 240 detainees had been let go from Gitmo (...). By March 2007, the total number had risen to 390. (...)
(...) The Pentagon has confirmed that 18 former detainees have returned to the battlefield, with another 43 listed as “suspected” of going back to the fight, meaning final confirmation is all but impossible. One released detainee killed a judge in Afghanistan; another took over leadership of an al-Qaeda-linked radical group in Pakistan. Al-Shihiri, formerly Prisoner 732, was released from Gitmo in November 2007 after being in the compound nearly six years. He returned to Yemen, and today is the number-two man in al Qaeda’s branch there. Abdullah Salih al-Ajmi was transferred to Kuwait in 2005, then vanished into Syria, and was killed with two accomplices in a 2008 suicide bombing in Mosul, Iraq that also claimed the lives of 13 Iraqi policemen. Another former Afghani detainee, Abdullah Muhammad, was fitted with a modern prosthesis for his missing leg during his stay at Gitmo. He convinced his annual review board that he wasn’t a terrorist fanatic, and it turned him loose. Abdullah Muhammad is now being sought for involvement in the bombing of the Islamabad Marriott in 2006, and is still walking around on the artificial leg he was given by his Gitmo captors. It is unprecedented for a nation unilaterally to release enemy combatants during wartime, as the United States has done at Gitmo, and for obvious reasons. Nearly all the remaining Gitmo detainees are trained in the use of heavy weapons, mortars, bomb making, hostage taking, and psy-ops against their captors. They will pose a serious risk wherever they finally end up. (...)(...) In the end, at least some may end up being set free here. Obama’s new National Intelligence Director, Admiral Dennis Blair, has speculated that they might have to receive civilian housing, job training, and even government checks while living here.
And what of Michael Ratner’s original clients, the so-called Tipton Three? They are now free in Britain. Two of them, Shafiq Rasul and Ruhal Ahmed, appeared on the BBC television program Lie Lab. Rasul refused to take a lie detector test on whether his stories about abuse at Gitmo were true, and Ahmed allowed that his earlier story of being an innocent tourist in Afghanistan before the American invasion was false. He admitted to having attended an al-Qaeda training camp, and being trained to use an AK-47 and other heavier weapons. However, Ahmed suffered no embarrassment for his belated disclosure. He is currently a spokesman for Amnesty International in the United Kingdom.
THE UNWANTED ORPHAN
(...) Who (...) could have predicted that in less than eight years, an American administration would be contemplating turning unrepentant terrorists loose on the street or contemplating putting those who incarcerated them on trial?(...)
(...) The careful construction of this myth caused America to turn on itself in the midst of a still desperate struggle against Islamist terrorism. The consequences of this sea change in opinion may turn out to be measured not in political gains and losses by our major parties but in a revival of the fortunes of America’s foes.»